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JdnttsD meefelp" K 



N 



ji Edinburgh 

Eleven. 




By GAVIN OGILVY. 



Rosebery. 
fessor Masson. 
ofessor Blackie. 
jpfessor Calderwood. 
ofessor Tait. 
ofessor Fraser. 



Professor Chrystal. 
Professor Sellar. 
Mr. Joseph Thomson. 
Mr. Robert Louis 

Stevenson. 
Rev. W. C. Smith, D.D. 



LONDON 






C7, Paternoster Row. 



SECOND EDITION. 

AULD LIGHT IDYLLS. 

By J. M. BARRIE (Gavin Ogilvy.) 
Bound in buckram, gilt top, crown 8vo, price 6s. 

Spectator.— '' K\. once the most successful, the most truly literary, and the moc 
realistic attempt that has been made for years— if not for generations— to reprc 
duce humble Scotch life. . . . We have thought it positively our duty to cal 
attention at some length to this book, because in its fidelity to truth, its humoui 
and Its vivid interest, it is a complete and a welcome contrast to the paltry ' duds 
which are nowadays printed by the dozen as pictures of humb'e and religious lif 
in Scotland." 

Academy.—'' This is not only the best book dealing exclusively with Scotd 
humble life, but the only book of the kind, deserving to be classed as literature 
that has been published for at least a quarter of a century." 

AtlieticEuui.—'' Very graphic is the description of the storm-beaten, snow-Iadei 
clachan of grey stones, and .bright is the observant insight displayed by th( 
solitary and philosophic village dominie who tells the tale." 

Saturday Review.— '''^oX merely readable, but amusing and suggestive in n( 
mean degree." 

Literary World.—"' Pictured with marvellous skill. . , . We hardly know anj 
word-sketch that so photographs a scene as that which sets forth Thrums in th( 
grasp of the snow-storm. . . . For pathos the story of ' Cree Queery and Mys] 
DroUy ' will touch the hardest heart. Every page is worth study." 

Gi-aphic. — "A book of real humour, touching the surface of things and person; 
with a light and lively hand, with occasional subtle suggestions of the depths 
human nature below them . . . admirable in their humorous simplicity." 

World. — " Drawn in a number of light but singularly careful and vivid touches. 
Of its cleverness there can be no question." 

Scottish Leader. — "Quite equal — to our thinking superior— to anything in 
' Mansie Waugh.' As word pictures, really wonderful." 

Manchester Examitier. — "A collection of delightful sketches. Every page 
glistens with happy conceits." 

Aberdeen Free Press.— "■ The little town with its kirks, and looms, and men, 
stands out before us in almost startling reality. With wonderful breadth oi 
delineation the author knows how to combine the minute touches and fine work- 
manship of a miniature. " 

Glasgow Herald.—'' It is difficult to speak of this volume as it deserves without 
apparently laying oneself open to exaggeration, and yet to say that in its class 
it is the most noticeable book of the year, and that no transcript of Scotch life 
and character at once so truthful and poetic has recently been issued from the 
jress, is to do it but meagre justice. Nothing could be more masterly." 

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''British Weekly'' Extras, No. III. 

AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 
IpcncH ^ortnuts front College %\it>- 




y. M. BARRIE, 

AUTHOR OF "when A MAN's SINGLE," " AULD LICHT IDYLLS," ETC. 



LONDON : 
OFFICE OF THE " BRITISH WEEKLY," 

27, PATERNOSTER ROW. 



MDCCCLXXXIX. 



[All rights resei-z'ed.l 



CONTENTS 



I. Lord Rosebery 
11. Professor Masson . 

III. Professor Blackie , 

IV. Professor Calderwood 
V. Professor Tait 

VI. Professor Eraser . 

VII. Professor Chrystal 

VIII. Professor Sellar . 

IX. Mr. Joseph Thomson 

X. Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson 

XL Rev. Walter C. Smith, D.D. 



PAGE 

7 

17 

27 

35 

45 
57 
65 
77 
89 

97 
109 



LORD R03EBERY. 

'T^IIE first time I ever saw Lord Rosebery 
^ was ill Edinburgii when I was a student, 
and I flung a clod of earth at him. He was 
a peer ; those were my politics. 

I missed him, and I have heard a good 
many journalists say since then that lie is a 
difficult man to hit. One who began by 
liking him and is now scornful, which is just 
the reverse process from mine, told me the 
reason why. He had some brochures to 
write on the Liberal leaders, and got on 
nicely till he reached Lord Rosebery, where 
he stuck. Li vain he walked round his lord- 
ship, looking for an opening. The man was 
naturally indignant ; he is the father of a 
family. 

Lord Rosebery is forty-one years of age, 
and has missed many opportunities of becom- 
ing the bosom friend of Lord Randolph 



8 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

Churchill. They were at Eton together and 
at Oxford, and have met since. As a boy 
the Liberal played at horses, and the Tory 
at running off with other boys' caps. Lord 
Randolph was the more distinguished at the 
University. One day a proctor ran him 
down in the streets smoking in his cap and 
gown. The undergraduate remarked on the 
changeability of the weather, but the proctor, 
gasping at such bravado, demanded his name 
and college. Lord Randolph failed to turn 
up next day at St. Edmund Hall to be lec- 
tured, but strolled to the proctor's house about 
dinner-time. " Does a fellow, name of Moore, 
live here ? " he asked. The footman contrived 
not to faint. " He do," he replied, severely ; 
"but he are at dinner." " Ah ! take him in my 
card," said the unabashed caller. The Merton 
books tell that for this the noble lord was 
fined ten pounds. 

There was a time when Lord Rosebery 
would have reformed the House of Lords to 
a site nearer Newmarket. As politics took a 
firmer grip of him, it was Newmarket that 
seemed a long way off. One day at Edin- 



LORD ROSEBERY. 9 

burgh he realized the disadvantage of owning 
swift horses. His brougham had met him 
at Waverley Station to take him to Dalmeny. 
Lord Rosebery opened the door of the car- 
riage to put in some papers, and then turned 
away. The coachman, too well bred to look 
round, heard the door shut, and thinking that 
his master was inside, set off at once. Pur- 
suit was attempted, but what was there in 
Edinburgh streets to make up on those 
horses ? The coachman drove seven miles, 
until he reached a point in the Dalmeny 
parks where it was his lordship's custom to 
alight and open a gate. Here the brougham 
stood for some minutes, awaiting Lord Rose- 
bery's convenience. At last the coachman 
became uneasy and dismounted. His brain 
reeled when he saw an empty brougham. He 
could have sworn to seeing his lordship enter. 
There were his papers. What had happened ? 
With a quaking hand the horses were turned, 
and, driving back, the coachman looked fear- 
fully along the sides of the road. He met 
Lord Rosebery travelling in great good 
humour by the luggage omnibus. 



10 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

Whatever is to be Lord Rosebery's future, 
he has reached that stage in a statesman's 
career when his opponents cease to question 
his capacity. His speeches showed him long 
ago a man of brilliant parts. His tenure of 
the Foreign Office proved him heavy metal. 
Were the Gladstonians to return to power, the 
other Cabinet posts might go anywhere, but 
the Foreign Secretary is arranged for. Where 
his predecessors had clouded their meaning in 
words till it was as wrapped up as a Mussul- 
man's head. Lord Rosebery's were the straight- 
forward dispatches of a man with his mind 
made up. German influence was spoken of ; 
Count Herbert Bismarck had been seen shoot- 
ing Lord Rosebery's partridges. This was the 
evidence : there has never been any other, 
except that German methods commended 
themselves to the Minister rather than those 
of France. His relations with the French 
Government were cordial. " The talk of 
Bismarck's shadow behind Rosebery," a great 
French politician said lately, " I put aside 
with a smile; but how about the Jews?" 
Probably few persons realize what a power the 



LORD ROSEBERY. II 

Jews arc in Europe, and in Lord Rosebery's 
position he is a strong man if he holds his 
own with them. Any fears on that ground 
have, I should say, been laid by his record 
at the Foreign Office. 

Lord Rosebery had once a conversation 
with Prince Bismarck, to which, owing to some 
oversight, the Paris correspondent of the 
Times was not invited. M. Blowitz only 
smiled good-naturedly, and of course his 
report of the proceedings appeared all the 
same. Some time afterwards Lord Rose- 
bery was introduced to this remarkable man, 
who, as is well known, carries Cabinet 
appointments in his pocket, and compli- 
mented him on his report. "Ah, it was all 
right, was it ? " asked Blo\^^itz, beaming. Lord 
Rosebery explained that any fault it had was 
that it was all wrong. " Then if Bismarck did 
not say that to you," said Blowitz, regally, 
"I know he intended to say it." 

The " Uncrowned King of Scotland " is a 
title that has been made for Lord Rosebery, 
whose country has had faith in him from the 
beginning. Mr. Gladstone is the only other 



12 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

man who can make so many Scotsmen take 
politics as if it were the Highland Fling. 
Once when Lord Rosebery was firing an 
Edinburgh audience to the delirium point, 
an old man in the hall shouted out, " I dinna 
hear a word he says, but it's grand, it's 
grand ! " During the first Midlothian cam- 
paign Mr. Gladstone and Lord Rosebery were 
the father and son of the Scottish people. 
Lord Rosebery rode into fame on the top of 
that wave, and he has kept his place in the 
hearts of the people, and in oleographs on 
their walls, ever since. In all Scottish matters 
he has the enthusiasm of a Burns dinner, and 
his humour enables him to pay compliments. 
When he says agreeable things to Scotsmen 
about their country, there is a twinkle in his 
eye and in theirs to which English scribes can- 
not give a meaning. He has unveiled so many 
Burns' statues that an American lecturess 
explains, " Curious thing, but I feel somehow 
I am connected with Lord Rosebery. I go 
to a place and deliver a lecture on Burns ; 
they collect subscriptions for a statue, and he 
unveils it." Such is the delight of the Scottish 



LORD ROSEBERY. 1 3 

students in Lord Rosebery, that he may be 
said to have made the triumphal tour of the 
northern universities as their Lord Rector ; 
he lost the post in Glasgow lately through a 
quibble, but had the honour with the votes. 
His address to the Edinburgh undergraduates 
on " Patriotism " was the best thing he ever 
did outside politics, and made the students his 
for life. Some of them had smuggled into the 
hall a chair with " Gaelic chair " placarded on 
it, and the Lord Rector unwittingly played 
into their hands. In a noble peroration he 
exhorted his hearers to high aims in life. 
" Raise your country," he exclaimed (cheers) ; 
" raise yourselves (renewed cheering) ; raise 
your university " (thunders of applause). 
From the back of the hall came a solemn 
voice, " Raise the chair ! " Up went the Gaelic 
chair. 

Even Lord Rosebery's views on Imperial 
Federation can become a compliment to 
Scotland. Having been all over the world 
himself, and felt how he grew on his travels, 
Lord Rosebery maintains that every British 
statesman should visit India and the Colonies. 



14 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

He said that first at a semi-public dinner in 
the country — and here I may mention that 
on such occasions he has begun his speeches 
less frequently than any other prominent 
politician with a statement that others could 
be got to discharge the duty better ; in other 
words, he has several times omitted this 
introduction. On his return to London he 
was told that his colleagues in the Adminis- 
tration had been seeing how his scheme would 
work out. " We found that if your rule were 
enforced, the Cabinet would consist of your- 
self and Childers." " This would be an ideal 
Cabinet," Lord Rosebery subsequently re- 
marked in Edinburgh, " for it would be 
entirely Scottish" ; Mr. Childers being member 
for a Scottish constituency. 

The present unhappy division of the 
Liberal party has made enemies of friends 
for no leading man so little as for Lord Rose- 
bery. There are forces working against him, 
no doubt, in comparatively high places, but 
the Unionists have kept their respect for him. 
His views may be wrong, but he is about the 
only Liberal leader, with the noble exception 



LORD ROSEBERY. 1 5 

of Lord Ilartington, of whom troublous times 
have not rasped the temper. Though a great 
reader, he is not a hterary man hke Mv. 
Morley, who would, however, be making- 
phrases where Lord Rosebery would make 
laws. Sir William Harcourt has been spoken 
of as a possible Prime Minister, but surely it 
will never come to that. If Mr. Gladstone's 
successor is chosen from those who have fol- 
lowed him on the Home Rule question, he 
probably was not rash in himself naming 
Lord Rosebery. 

Lord Rosebery could not now step up 
without stepping into the Premiership. His 
humour, which is his most obvious faculty, 
has been a prop to him many a time ere now, 
but, if I was his adviser, I should tell him that 
it has served its purpose. There are a great 
many excellent people who shake their heads 
over it in a man who has become a power in 
the land. " Let us be grave," said Dr. John- 
son once to a merry companion, " for here 
comes a fool." In an unknown novel there is 
a character Avho says of himself that " he is 
not stupid enough ever to be a great man." 



l6 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

I happen to know that this reflection was 
evolved by the author out of thinking over 
Lord P^osebery. It is not easy for a bright man 
to be heavy, and Lord Rosebery's humour is 
so spontaneous that if a joke is made in their 
company he has always finished laughing be- 
fore Lord Hartington begins. Perhaps when 
Lord Rosebery is on the point of letting his 
humour run off with him in a public speech 
he could recover his solemnity by thinking of 
the Examiner. 



II. 

PROFESSOR MASSON. 

'T^HOUGH a man might, to my mind, be 
-*• better employed than in going to college, 
it is his own fault if he does not strike on 
som2 one there who sends his life off at a new 
angle. If, as I take it, the glory of a pro- 
fessor is to give elastic minds their proper 
bent, Masson is a name his country will retain 
a grip of There are men who are good to 
think of, and as a rule we only know them 
from their books. Something of our pride in 
life would go with their fall. To have one 
such professor at a time is the most a univer- 
sity can hope of human nature, so Edinburgh 
need not expect another just yet. These, of 
course, are only to be taken as the reminis- 
cences of a student. I seem to remember 
everything Masson said, and the way he 
said it. 

Having immediately before taken lodgings 

2 



1 8 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

in a crow's nest, my first sight of Masson was 
specially impressive. It was the opening of 
the session, when fees were paid, and a whisper 
ran round the quadrangle that Masson had set 
off home with three hundred one-pound notes 
stuffed into his trouser pockets. There was 
a solemn swell of awestruck students to the 
gates, and some of us could not help following 
him. He took his pockets coolly. When he 
stopped it was at a second-hand bookstall, 
where he rummaged for a long time. Even- 
tuall}^ he pounced upon a dusty, draggled little 
volume, and went off proudly with it beneath 
his arm. He seemed to look suspiciously at 
strangers now, but it was not the money but 
the book he was keeping guard over. His 
pockets, however, were unmistakably bulging 
out. I resolved to go in for literature. 

Masson, however, always comes to my 
memory first knocking nails into his desk or 
trying to tear the gas-bracket from its socket. 
He said that the Danes scattered over Eng- 
land, taking such a hold as a nail takes when it 
is driven into wood. For the moment he saw 
his desk turned into England ; he whirled an 



TROFESSOR MASSON. 19 

invisible hammer in the air, and clown it 
came on the desk with a crash. No one who 
has sat under Masson can forget how the 
Danes nailed themselves upon England. His 
desk is thick with their tombstones. It was 
when his mind groped for an image that he 
clutched the bracket. He seemed to tear his 
good things out of it. Silence overcame the 
class. Some were fascinated by the man ; 
others trembled for the bracket. It shook, 
groaned, and yielded. Masson said another 
of the things that made his lectures literature ; 
the crisis was passed ; and everybody breathed 
again. 

He masters a subject by letting it master 
him ; for though his critical reputation is built 
on honesty, it is his enthusiasm that makes 
his work warm with life. Sometimes he 
entered the classroom so full of what he had 
to say that he began before he reached his 
desk. If he was in the middle of a perora- 
tion when the bell rang, even the back-benches 
forgot to empty. There were the inevitable 
students to whom literature is a trial, and 
sometimes they call attention to their suffer- 



20 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

ings by a scraping of the feet. Then the pro- 
fessor tried to fix his eyeglass on them, and 
when it worked properly they were transfixed . 
As a rule, however, it required so many ad- 
justments that by the time his eye took hold of 
it he had remembered that students were made 
so, and his indignation went. Then, with the 
light in his eye that some photographer ought 
to catch, he would hope that his lecture was 
not disturbing their conversation. It was 
characteristic of his passion for being just 
that when he had criticised some writer 
severely he would remember that the back - 
benches could not understand that criticism 
and admiration might go together, unless they 
were told so again. 

The test of a sensitive man is that he is 
careful of wounding the feelings of others. 
Once, I remember, a student was reading a 
passage aloud, assuming at the same time 
such an attitude that the Professor could not 
help remarking that he looked like a teapot. 
It was exactly what he did look like, and the 
class applauded. But next moment Masson 
had apologized for being personal. Such 



TROFESSOR MASSON. 21 

reminiscences are what make the old litera- 
ture classroom to thousands of graduates a 
delight to think of. 

When the news of Carlyle's death reached 
the room, Masson could not go on with his 
lecture. Every one knows what Carlyle has 
said of him ; and no one who has heard it 
will ever forget what he has said of Carlyle. 
Here were two men who understood each 
other. One of the Carlylean pictures one 
loves to dwell on shows them smoking to- 
gether, with nothing breaking the pauses but 
Mrs. Carlyle's needles. Carlyle told Masson 
how he gave up smoking and then took to it 
again. He had walked from Dumfriesshire 
to Edinburgh to consult a doctor about his 
health, and was advised to lose his pipe. He 
smoked no more, but his health did not im- 
prove, and then one day he walked in a wood. 
At the foot of a tree lay a pipe, a tobacco 
pouch, a match-box. He saw clearly that 
this was a case of Providential interference, 
and from that moment he smoked again. 
There the Professor's story stops. I have no 
doubt, though, that he nodded his head when 



22 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

Carlylc explained what the pipe and tobacco 
were doing there, Masson's " Milton " is, of 
course, his great work, but for sympathetic 
analysis I know nothing to surpass his 
" Chatterton." Lecturing on Chatterton one 
day, he remarked, with a slight hesitation, 
that had the poet mixed a little more in com- 
pany and — and smoked, his morbidness would 
not have poisoned him. That turned my 
thoughts to smoking, because I meant to be 
a Chatterton, but greater. Since then the 
professor has warned me against smoking too 
much. He was smoking at the time. 

This is no place to follow Masson's career, 
nor to discuss his work. To reach his position 
one ought to know his definition of a man-of- 
letters. It is curious, and, like most of his 
departures from the generally accepted, sticks 
to the memory. By a man-of-letters he does 
not mean the poet, for instance, who is all 
soul, so much as the strong-brained writer 
whose guardian angel is a fine sanity. He 
used to mention John Skelton, the Wolsey 
satirist, and Sir David Lindsay, as typical 
men-of-lctters from this point of view, and 



PROFESSOR JNIASSON. 23 

it is as a man-of-letters of that class that 
Masson is best considered. In an age of many 
whipper-snappers in criticism he is something 
of a Gulliver. 

The students in that class liked to see then 
professor as well as hear him. I let my hair 
grow long because it only annoyed other 
people, and one day there was dropped into 
my hand a note containing sixpence and the 
words : " The students sitting behind you 
present their compliments, and beg that you 
will get your hair cut with the enclosed, as it 
interferes with their view of the professor." 

Masson, when he edited " Macmillan's," 
had all the best men round him. His talk 
of Thackeray is specially interesting, but he 
always holds that in conversation Douglas 
Jerrold was unapproachable. Jerrold told 
him a good story of his sea-faring days. His 
ship was lying off Gibraltar, and for some 
hours Jerrold, though only a midshipman, was 
left in charge. Some of the sailors begged 
to get ashore, and he let them, on the promise 
that they would bring him back some oranges. 
One of them disappeared, and the midship- 



24 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

man suffered for it. More than twenty years 
afterwards Jerrold was looking in at a window 
in the Strand when he seemed to know the 
face of a weather-beaten man who was doing 
the same thing. Suddenly he remembered, 
and put his hand on the other's shoulder- 
" My man," he said, " you have been a long 
time with those oranges ! " The sailor recog- 
nized him, turned white, and took to his heels. 
There is, too, the story of how Dickens and 
Jerrold made up their quarrel at the Garrick 
Club. It was the occasion on which Masson 
first met the author of " Pickwick." Dickens 
and Jerrold had not spoken for a year, and 
they both happened to have friends at dinner 
in the strangers' room, Masson being Jerrold's 
guest. The two hosts sat back to back, but 
did not address each other, though the con- 
versation was general. At last Jerrold could 
stand it no longer. Turning, he exclaimed, 
" Charley, my boy, how are you .-• " Dickens 
wheeled round and grasped his hand. 

Many persons must have noticed that, in 
appearance, Masson is becoming more and 
more like Carlyle every year. How would 



PROFESSOR MASSON. 2 5 

you account for it ? It is a thing his old 
students often discuss when they meet, espe- 
cially those of them who, when at college, 
made up their minds to dedicate their first 
book to him. The reason they seldom do it 
is because the book does not seem good 
enoufjh. 



L 



III. 

PROFESSOR JOHN STUART BLACKIE. 
ATELY I was told that Blackic— one 



docs not say Mr. Cromwell — is no longer 
Professor of Greek in Edinburgh University. 
What nonsense some people talk. As if 
Blackic were not part of the building. In 
his class one day he spoke touchingly of the 
time when he would have to join Socrates in 
the Elysian fields. A student cheered — no 
one knows why. " It won't be for some time 
yet," added John Stuart. 

Blackic takes his ease at home in a 
dressing-gown and straw hat. This shows 
that his plaid really does come off. " j\Iy 
occupation nowadays," he said to me recently, 
"is business, blethers, bothers, beggars, and 
backgammon." He has also started a pro- 
fession of going to public meetings, and 
hurrying home to write letters to the news- 
papers about them. When the editor shakes 



28 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

the manuscript a sonnet falls out. I think I 
remember the Professor's saying that he had 
never made five shillings by his verses. To 
my mind they are worth more than that. 

Though he has explained them frequently, 
there is still confusion about Blackie's politics. 
At Manchester they thought he was a Tory, 
and invited him to address them on that 
understanding. " I fancy I astonished them," 
the Professor said to me. This is quite pos- 
sible. Then he was mistaken for a Liberal. 

The fact is that Blackie is a philosopher 
who follows the golden mean. He sees this 
himself. A philosopher who follows the 
golden mean is thus a man who runs zig-zag 
between two extremes. You will observe 
that he who does this is some time before he 
arrives anywhere. 

The Professor has said that he has the 
strongest lungs in Scotland. Of the many 
compliments that might well be paid him, 
not the least worthy would be this, that he is as 
healthy mentally as physically. Mrs. Norton 
begins a novel with the remark that one of 
the finest sights conceivable is a well-pre- 



PROFESSOR JOHN STUART BLACKIE. 29 

served gentleman of middle-age. It will be 
some time yet before Blackie reaches middle- 
age, but there must be something wrong with 
you if you can look at him without feeling 
refreshed. Did you ever watch him marching 
along Princes Street on a warm day, when 
every other person was broiling in the sun ? 
His head is well thrown back, the staff, 
grasped in the middle, jerks back and for- 
ward like a weaver's shuttle, and the plaid 
flies in the breeze. Other people's clothes 
are hanging limp. Blackie carries his breeze 
with him. 

A year or two ago Mr. Gladstone, when 
at Dalmeny, pointed out that he had the 
advantage over Blackie in being of both 
Highland and Lowland extraction. The 
Professor, however, is as Scotch as the 
thistle or his native hills, and Mr. Gladstone, 
quite justifiably, considers him the most out- 
standing of living Scotsmen. Blackie is not 
quite sure himself Not long ago I heard 
him read a preface to a life of Mr. Gladstone 
that was being printed at Smyrna in modern 
Greek. He told his readers to remember 



30 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

that Mr. Gladstone was a great scLolar and 
an upright statesman. They would find it 
easy to do this if they first remembered that 
he was Scottish. 

The IVorld included Blackie in its list of 
" Celebrities at Home." It said that the door 
was opened by a red-headed lassie. That 
was probably meant for local colour, and it 
amused every one who knew Mrs. Blackie. 
The Professor is one of the niost genial of 
men, and will show you to your room 
himself, talking six languages. This tends 
to make the conversation one-sided, but he 
does not mind that. He still writes a good 
deal, spending several hours in his library 
daily, and his talk is as brilliant as ever. 
His writing nowadays is less sustained than, 
it was, and he prefers flitting from one sub- 
ject to another to evolving a great work. 
When he dips his pen into an ink-pot it at 
once writes a sonnet — so strong is the force 
of habit. Recently he wrote a page about 
Carlyle in a little book issued by the Edin- 
burgh students' bazaar committee. In this 
he reproved Carlyle for having " bias." 



PROFESSOR JOHN STUART BLACKIE. 3 1 

Blackic wonders why people should have 
bias. 

Some readers of this may in their student 
days have been invited to the Greek profes- 
sor's house to breakfast without knowing 
why they were selected from among so many. 
It was not, as they are probably aware, be- 
cause of their classical attainments, for they 
were too thoughtful to be in the prize-list; 
nor was it because of the charm of their 
manners or the fascination of their conver- 
sation. When the Professor noticed any 
physical peculiarity about a student, such as 
a lisp, or a glass eye, or one leg longer than 
the other, or a broken nose, he was at once 
struck by it, and asked him to breakfast. 
They were very lively breakfasts, the eggs 
being served in tureens ; but sometimes it 
was a collection of the maimed and crooked, 
and one person at the table — not the host 
himself — used to tremble lest, making mirrors 
of each other, the guests should see why they 
were invited. 

Sometimes, instead of asking a student 
to breakfast, Blackie would instruct another 



32 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

student to request his company to tea. Then 
the two students were told to talk about 
paulo-post futures in the cool of the evening, 
and to read their Greek Testament and to go 
to the pantomime. The Professor never tired 
of giving his students advice about the pre- 
servation of their bodily health. He strongly 
recommended a cold bath at six o'clock every 
morning. In winter, he remarked genially, 
you can break the ice with a hammer. Ac- 
cording to himself, only one enthusiast seems 
to have followed his advice, and he died. 

In Blackie's classroom there used to be a 
demonstration every time he mentioned the 
name of a distinguished politician. Whether 
the demonstration took the Professor by sur- 
prise, or whether he waited for it, will never, 
perhaps, be known. But Blackie at least put 
out the gleam in his eye, and looked as if he 
were angry. " I will say Beaconsfield," he 
would exclaim (cheers and hisses). " Beacons- 
field " (uproar). Then he would stride for- 
ward, and, seizing the railing, announce his 
intention of saying Beaconsfield until every 
goose in the room was tired of cackling. 



PROFESSOR JOHN STUART r.LACKTE. 33 

("Question.") " Bcaconsfickl." ("No no.") 
"Bcaconsfickl." ("Hear, hear," and shouts 
of "Gladstone") " Beaconsfield." ("Three 
cheers for Dizzy.") Iivcntually tlie class 
would be dismissed as— (i) idiots, (2) a bear 
garden, (3) a (lock of sheep, (4) a pack of 
numskulls, (5) hissing- serpents. The pro- 
fessor would retire, apparently fuming, to his 
anteroom, and five minutes afterwards he 
would be playing himself down the North 
Bridge on imaginary bagpipes. This sort of 
thing added a sauce to all academic sessions. 
There was a notebook also, which appeared 
year after year. It contained the Professor's 
jokes of a former session, carefully classified 
by an admiring student. It was handed 
down from one year's men to the next, and 
thus if Blackie began to make a joke about 
haggis, the possessor of the book had only 
swiftly to turn to the H's, find what the joke 
was, and send it along the class quicker than 
the professor could speak it. 

In the old days the Greek professor recited 
a poem in honour of the end of the session. 
He composed it himself,and, as known to me, it 
3 



34 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

took the form of a graduate's farewell to his 
Alma Mater. Sometimes he would knock a 
map down as if overcome with emotion, and 
at critical moments a student in the back- 
benches would accompany him on a penny 
trumpet. Now, I believe, the Hellenic Club 
takes the place of the classroom. All the 
eminent persons in Edinburgh attends its 
meetings, and Blackie, the Athenian, is in 
the chair. The policeman in Douglas 
Crescent looks skeered when you ask him 
what takes place on these occasions. It is 
generally understood that toward the end 
of the meeting they agree to read Greek next 
time. 



IV. 

PROFESSOR CALDERWOOD. 

TT ERE is a true story that the general 
reader may jump, as it is intended for 
Professor Calderwood himself. Some years 
ago an English daily paper reviewed a book 
entitled "A Handbook of Moral Philosophy." 
The Professor knows the work. The 
"notice" was done by the junior reporter, 
to whom philosophical treatises are generally 
entrusted. He dealt leniently, on the whole, 
with Professor Calderwood, even giving him 
a word of encouragement here and there. 
Still the criticism was severe. The reviewer 
subsequently went to Edinburgh University, 
and came out 144th in the class of Moral 
Philosophy. 

That student is now, I believe, on friendly 
terms with Professor Calderwood, but has 
never told him this story. I fancy the Pro- 
fessor would like to know his name. It may. 



36 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

perhaps, be reached in this way. He was the 
young gentleman who went to his classes the 
first clay in a black coat and silk hat, and 
was cheered round the quadrangle by a body 
of admiring fellow-students, who took him 
for a professor. 

Calderwood contrives to get himself more 
in touch with the mass of his students than 
some of his fellow-professors, partly because 
he puts a high ideal before himself, and to 
some extent because his subject is one that 
Scottish students revel in. Long before 
they join his class they know that they are 
moral philosophers ; indeed, they are some- 
times surer of it before they enrol than 
afterwards. Their essays begin in some such 
fashion as this — " In joining issue with Reid, 
I wish to take no unfair advantage of my 
antagonist " ; or " Kant is sadly at fault when 
he says that " ; or " It is strange that a man 
of Locke's attainments should have been 
blind to the fact." When the Professor reads 
out these tit-bits to the class his eyes twinkle. 
Some students, of course, are not such keen 
philosophers as others. Does Professor 



PROFESSOR CALDERWOOD. 37 

Calderwood remember the one who was 
nev^er struck by anything in moral philo- 
sophy until he learned by accident that 
Descartes lay in bed till about twelve o'clock 
every morning ? Then it dawned on him 
that he, too, must have been a philosopher 
all his life without knowing it. One year a 
father and son were in the class. The 
father got so excited over volition and the 
line that divides right from wrong, that he 
wrenched the desk before him from its 
sockets and hit it triumphantly, meaning that 
he and the Professor were at one. He was 
generally admired by his fellow-students, 
because he was the only one in the class 
who could cry out " Hear, hear," and even 
" question," without blushing. The son, on 
the other hand, was blasL\ and would have 
been an agnostic, only he could never re- 
member the name. Once a week Calderwood 
turns his class into a debating society, and 
argues things out with his students. This 
field-diiy is a joy to them. Some of them 
spend the six days previous in preparing 
posers. The worst of the Professor is that 



38 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

he never sees that they are posers. What 
is the use of getting up a question of the 
most subtle kind, when he answers it right 
away ? It makes you sit clown quite sud- 
denly. There is an occasional student who 
tries to convert liberty of speech on the 
discussion day into license, and of him the 
Professor makes short work. The student 
means to turn the laugh on Calderwood, and 
then Calderwood takes advantage of him, and 
the other students laugh at the wrong person. 
It is the older students, as a rule, who are 
most violently agitated over these philo- 
sophical debates. One with a beard cracks 
his fingers, after the manner of a child in 
a village school that knows who won the 
battle of Bannockburn, and feels that he 
must burst if he docs not let it out at once. 
A bald-headed man rises every minute to 
put a question, and then sits down, looking 
stupid. He has been trying so hard to re- 
member what it is, that he has forgotten. 
There is a legend of two who quarrelled over 
the Will and fought it out on Arthur's Seat. 
One year, however, a boy of sixteen or so, 



PROFESSOR CALDERWOOD. 39 

with a squeaky voice and a stammer, was 
Calderwood's severest critic. He sat on the 
back bench, and what he wanted to know 
was something about the infinite. Every 
discussion day he took advantage of a lull 
in the debate to squeak out, " With regard to 
the infinite," and then could never get any 
further. No one ever discovered what he 
wanted enlightenment on about the infinite. 
He grew despondent as the session wore on, 
but courageously stuck to his point. Pro- 
bably he is a soured man now. For purposes 
of exposition Calderwood has a black board 
in his lecture-room, on which he chalks circles 
that represent the feelings and the will, with 
arrows shooting between them. In my class 
there was a boy, a very little boy, who had 
been a dux at school and was a dunce at 
college. He could not make moral philo- 
sophy out at all, but did his best. Here were 
his complete notes for one day : — " Edinburgh 
University, class of Moral Philosophy, Pro- 
fessor Calderwood, Lecture 64, Jan, 11, 18 — . 
You rub out the arrow, and there is only the 
circle left." 



40 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

Professor Caldervvood is passionately fond 
of music, as those who visit at his house 
know. He is of opinion that there is a great 
deal of moral philosophy in "The Dead 
March in Saul." Once he said something to 
that effect in his class, adding enthusiastically 
that he could excuse the absence of a student 
who had been away hearing " The Dead 
March in Saul." After that he received a 
good many letters from students, worded in 
this way : " Mr. McNaughton (bench 7) 
presents his compliments to Professor Calder- 
wood, and begs to state that his absence from 
the class yesterday was owing to his being 
elsewhere, hearing ' The Dead March in 
Saul.'" "Dear Professor Caldervvood — I 
regret my absence from the lecture to-day, 
but hope you will overlook it, as I was un- 
avoidably detained at home, practising ' The 
Dead March in Saul.'— Yours truly, Peter 
Webster." " Professor Caldervvood, — Dear 
Sir, — As I was coming to the lecture to-day, 
I heard ' The Dead March in Saul ' being 
played in the street. You will, I am sure, 
make allowance for my non-attendance at 



PROFESSOR CALDERWOOD. 4I 

the class, as I was too much affected to 
come. It is indeed a grand march.— Yours 
faithfully, JOIIN ROBBIE." " The students 
whose names are subjoined thank the Pro- 
fessor of Moral Philosophy most cordially 
for his remarks on the elevating power of 
music. They have been encouraged thereby 
to start a class for the proper study of the 
impressive and solemn march to which he 
called special attention, and hope he will 
excuse them, should their practisings occa- 
sionally prevent their attendance at the 
Friday lectures." Professor Calderwood does 
not lecture on " The Dead March in Saul " 
now. 

The class of Moral Philosophy is not for 
the few, but the many. Some professors do 
not mind what becomes of the nine students, 
so long as they can force on every tenth. 
Calderwood, however, considers it his duty to 
carry the whole class along with him, and it 
is, as a consequence, almost impossible to fall 
behind. The lectures are not delivered, in 
the ordinary sense, but dictated. Having 
explained the subject of the day with the 



42 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

lucidity that is this professor's pccuhar gift, 
he condenses his remarks into a proposition. 
It is as if a minister ended his sermon with 
the text. Thus : — " Proposition 34. Man is 
born into the world — (You have got that ? 
See that you have all got it.) Man is born 
into the world with a capacity — with a 
capacity — " (Anxious student : " If you 
please, Professor, where did you say man was 
born into ? ") " Into the world, with a 
capacity to distinguish " — (" With a what, 
sir ? ") — " with a capacity to distinguish " — ■ 
(Student : " Who is born into the world ? ") 
" Perhaps I have been reading too cjuickly. 
Man is born into the world, with a capacity 
to distinguish between — distinguish between 
(student shuts his book, thinking that com- 
pletes the proposition) — distinguish between 
right and wrong — right — and wrong. You 
have all got Proposition 34, gentlemen ? " 

Once Calderwood was questioning a student 
about a proposition to see that he thoroughly 
understood it. " Give an illustration," sug- 
gested the Professor. The student took the 
case of a murderer. " Very good," said the 



PROFESSOR CALDERWOOl). 43 

Professor. " Now give me another illustra- 
tion." The student pondered for a little. 
" Well," he said at length, " take the case of 
another murderer." 

Professor Caldervvood has such an excep- 
tional interest in his students that he asks 
every one of them to his house. This is 
but one of many things that makes him 
generally popular ; he also invites his ladies' 
class to meet them. The lady whom you 
take down to supper suggests Proposition 41 
as a nice thing to talk about, and asks what 
you think of the metaphysics of ethics. 
Professor Caldervvood sees the ladies into the 
cabs himself. It is the only thing I ever 
heard against him. 



V. 
PROFESSOR TAIT. 

JUST as I opened my desk to write enthu- 
siastically of Tait, I remembered having 
recently deciphered a pencil note about him, 
in my own handwriting, on the cover of 
Masson's " Chronological List," which I still 
keep by me. I turned to the note to see if 
there was life in it yet. " Walls," it says, 
" got 2s. for T. and T. at Brown's, i6. Walker- 
street." I don't recall Walls, but T. and T. 
was short for *' Thomson and Tait's Elements 
of Natural Philosophy" (Elements!), better 
known in my year as the " Student's First 
Glimpse of Hades." Evidently Walls sold 
his copy, but why did I take such note of the 
address? I fear T. and T. is one of the 
Books Which Have Helped Me. This some- 
what damps my ardour. 

When Tait was at Cambridge it was flung 



46 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

in the face of the mathematicians that they 
never stood high in Scriptural knowledge. 
Tait and another were the two of whom 
one must be first wrangler, and they agreed 
privately to wipe this stigma from mathe- 
matics. They did it by taking year about 
the prize which was said to hang out of their 
reach. It is always interesting to know of 
professors who have done well in Biblical 
knowledge. All Scottish students at the 
English Universities are not so successful. I 
knew a Snell man who was sent back from 
the Oxford entrance exam., and he always 
held himself that the Biblical questions had 
done it. 

Turner is said by medicals to be the finest 
lecturer in the University. He will never 
be that so long as Tait is in the Natural 
Philosophy chair. Never, I think, can there 
have been a more superb demonstrator. I 
have his burly figure before me. The small 
twinkling eyes had a fascinating gleam in 
them ; he could concentrate them until they 
held the object looked at ; when they flashed 
round the room he seemed to have drawn a 



PROFESSOR TAIT. 47 

rapier. I have seen a man fall back in alarm 
under Tait's eyes, though there were a dozen 
benches between them. These eyes could be 
merry as a boy's, though, as when he turned a 
tube of water on students who would insist on 
crowding too near an experiment, for Tait's 
was the humour of high spirits. I could 
conceive him at marbles still, and feeling 
annoyed at defeat. He could not fancy 
anything much funnier than a man missing 
his chair. Outside his own subject he is not, 
one feels, a six-footer. When Mr. R. L. 
Stevenson's memoir of the late Mr. Fleeming 
Jenkin was published, Tait said at great 
length that he did not like it ; he would 
have had the sketch by a scientific man. 
But though scientists may be the only men 
nowadays who have anything to say, they are 
also the only men who can't say it. Scientific 
men out of their sphere know for a fact that 
novels are not true. So they draw back 
from novelists who write biography, Pro- 
fessor Tait and Mr. Stevenson are both men 
of note, who walk different ways, and when 
they meet neither likes to take the curbstone. 



48 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

If they were tied together for life in a three- 
legged race, which would suffer the more ? 

But if Tait's science weighs him to the 
earth, he has a genius for sticking to his 
subject, and I am lost in admiration every 
time I bring back his lectures. It comes as 
natural to his old students to say when they 
meet, " What a lecturer Tait was ! " as to 
Englishmen to joke about the bagpipes. It 
is not possible to draw a perfect circle, 
Chrystal used to say, after drawing a very fine 
one. To the same extent it was not possible 
for Tait never to fail in his experiments. 
The atmosphere would be too much for him 
once in a session, or there were other hostile 
influences at work. Tait warned us of these 
before proceeding to experiment, but we 
merely smiled. We believed in him as 
though he were a Bradshaw announcing that 
he would not be held responsible for possible 
errors. 

I had forgotten Lindsay; " the mother may 
forget her child." As I write he has slipped 
back into his chair on the Professor's right, 
and I could photograph him now in his 



PROFESSOR TAIT. 49 

brown suit. Lindsay was the imperturbable 
man who assisted Tait in his experiments, 
and his father held the post before him. 
When there were many of us together, we 
could applaud Lindsay with burlesque exag- 
geration, and he treated us good-humouredly, 
as making something considerable between 
us. But I once had to face Lindsay alone, 
in quest of my certificate ; and suddenly he 
towered above me, as a waiter may grow tall 
when you find that you have not money enough 
to pay the bill. He treated me most kindly ; 
did not reply, of course, but got the certifi- 
cate, and handed it to me as a cashier con- 
temptuously shovels you your pile of gold. 
Long ago I pasted up a crack in my window 
with the certificate, but it said, I remember, 
that I had behaved respectably — so far as I 
had come under the eyes of the Professor* 
Tait was always an enthusiast. 

We have been keeping Lindsay waiting. 
When he had nothing special to do he sat 
indifferently in his chair, with the face of a 
precentor after the sermon has begun. But 
though it was not very likely that Lindsay 
4 



so AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

would pay much attention to talk about such 
pla}-thing.s as the laws of Nature, his fingers 
went out in the direction of the Professor 
when the experiments began. Then he was 
lot the precentor ; he was a minister in one 
of the pews. Lindsay was an inscrutable 
man, and I shall not dare to say that he even 
half- wished to see Tait fail, lie only looked 
on, ready for any emergency ; but if the 
experiment would not come off, he was as 
quick to go to the Professor's assistance as 
a member of Parliament is to begin when 
he has caught the Speaker's eye. Perhaps 
Tait would have none of his aid, or pushed 
the mechanism for the experiment from him 
— an intimation to Lindsay to carry it 
Cjuickly to the ante-room. Do you think 
Lindsay read the instructions so ? Let me 
tell }-ou that }our mind fails to seize hold 
of Lindsay. He marched the machine out 
of Tait's vicinity as a mother may pusli her 
erring boy away from his father's arms, to 
take him to her heart as soon as the door 
is closed. Lindsay took the machine to his 
seat,-and laici it before him on the desk with 



PROFESSOR TAIT. 5I 

welt-conccaled apathy. Tait would Hash his 
eye to the right to see wliat Lindsay was 
after, and there was Lindsay sitting with his 
arms folded. The Professor's lecture resumed 
its way, and then out went Lindsay's hands 
to the machine. Here he tried a wheel ; 
again he turned a screw ; in time he had 
the machine ready for another trial. No 
one was looking his way, when suddenly 
there was a whizz — bang, bang. All eyes 
were turned upon Lindsay, the Professor's 
among them. A cheer broke out as we 
realized that Lindsay had done the experi- 
ment. Was he flushed with triumph ? Not 
a bit of it ; he was again sitting with his 
arms folded. A Glasgow merchant of modest 
manners, when cross-examined in a law court, 
stated itliat he had a considerable monetary 
interest in a certain concern. " How much 
do you mean by a 'considerable monetary 
interest ' ? " demanded the contemptuous bar- 
rister who was cross-examining him. " Oh," 
said the witness, humbly, "a maiter o' a 
million an' a half — or, say, twa million." 
That Glasgow man in the witness-box is the 



52 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

only person I can think of when looking 
about mc for a parallel to Lindsay. While 
the Professor eyed him and the students 
deliriously beat the floor, Lindsay quietly 
gathered the mechanism together and carried 
it to the ante-room. His head was not flung 
back nor his chest forward, like one who 
walked to music. In his hour of triumph he 
was still imperturbable. I lie back in my 
chair to-day, after the lapse of years, and ask 
myself again. How did Lindsay behave after 
he entered the ante-room, shutting the door 
behind him.'' Did he give way? There is 
no one to say. When he returned to the 
classroom he wore his familiar face ; a man 
to ponder over. 

There is a legend about the Natural Philo- 
sophy classroom — the period long antecedent 
to Tait. The Professor, annoyed by a habit 
students had got into of leaving their hats on 
his desk, announced that the next hat placed 
there would be cut in pieces by him in pre- 
sence of the class. The warning had its 
effect, until one day when the Professor was 
called for a few minutes from the room. An 



PROFESSOR TAIT. 53 

undergraduate, to whom the natural sciences, 
unreh'cved, were a monotonous study, sh'pped 
into the ante-room, from which he emerged 
with the Professor's hat. This he placed on 
the desk, and then stole in a panic to his seat. 
An awe fell upon the class. The Professor 
returned, but when he saw the hat he 
stopped. He showed no anger. " Gentle- 
men," he said, " I told you what would 
happen if you again disobeyed my orders." 
Quite blandly he took a pen-knife from his 
pocket, slit the hat into several pieces, and 
flung them into the sink. While the hat was 
under the knife the students forgot to demon- 
strate, but as it splashed into the sink they 
gave forth a true British cheer. The end. 

Close to the door of the Natural Philo- 
sophy room is a window that in my memory 
will ever be sacred to a janitor. The janitors 
of the University were of varied interest, 
from the merry one who treated us as if 
we were his equals, and the soldier who 
sometimes looked as if he would like to 
mow us down, to the Head Man of All, 
whose name T dare not write, though I can 



54 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

whisper it. The janitor at the window, how- 
ever, sat there through the long evenings 
while the Debating Society (of which I was 
a member) looked after affairs of State in 
an adjoining room. We were the smallest 
society in the University and the longest- 
winded, and I was once nearly expelled for 
not paying my subscription. Our grand 
debate was, " Is the policy of the Govern- 
ment worthy the confidence of this Society? " 
and we also read about six essays yearly 
on " The Genius of Robert Burns " ; but it 
was on private business that we came out 
strongest. The question that agitated us 
most was whether the meetings should be 
opened with prayer, and the men who 
thought they should would not so much as 
look at the men who thought they should not. 
When the janitor was told that we had begun 
our private business he returned to his win- 
dow and slept. His great day was when we 
could not form a quorum, which happened 
now and then. 

Gregory was a member of that society : 
what has become of Gregory ? He was one of 



TROFESSOR TAIT. 55 

those men who professors say have a brilh'ant 
future before them, and who have not since 
been licard of. Morton, another member, 
was of a chffercnt stamp. lie led in the 
debate on " Beauty of the Mind v. Beauty of 
the Body." His writhing contempt for tlie 
beauty that is only skin deep is not to be 
forgotten. How noble were his rhapsodies 
on the beauty of the mind ! And when he 
went to Calderwood's to supper, how quick 
he was to pick out the prettiest girl, who took 
ten per cent, in Moral Philosophy, and to sit 
beside her all the evening. Morton had a 
way of calling on his friends the night before 
a degree examination to ask them to put him 
up to as much as would pull him through. 

Tait used to get greatly e.vcited over the 
rectorial elections, and if he could have dis- 
guised himself, would have liked, I think, tc 
join in the fight round the Brew.ster statue. 
He would have bled for the Conservative 
cause, as his utterances on University reform 
have shown. The reformers have some cause 
for thinking that Tait is a greater man in 
his classroom than when he addresses the 



56 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

graduates. He has said that the less his 
students know of his subject when they join 
his class, the less, probably, they will have to 
unlearn. Such views are behind the times 
that feed their children on geographical 
biscuits in educational nurseries with astro- 
nomical ceilings and historical wall-papers. 



VI. 

PROFESSOR CAMPBELL ERASER. 

NOT long ago I was back in the Old 
University — how well I remembcr 
pointing it out as the gaol to a stranger who 
had asked me to show him round. I was in 
one of the library ante-rooms, when some one 
knocked, and I looked up, to see Campbell 
Fraser framed in the doorway. I had not 
looked on that venerable figure for half a 
dozen years. I had forgotten all my meta- 
physics. Yet it all came back with a rush. 
I was on my feet, wondering if I existed 
strictly so-called. 

Calderwood and Fraser had both their fol- 
lowings. The moral philosophers wore an 
air of certainty, for they knew that if they 
stuck to Calderwood he would pull them 
through. You cannot lose yourself in the 
back-garden. But the metaphysicians had 
their doubts. Fraser led them into strange 



58 AN EDINP.URGII ELEVEN. 

places, and said he would meet them there 
again next day. TJiey wandered to their 
lodgings, and got into difficulties with their 
landlady for saying that she was only an 
aggregate of sense phenomena. Fraser was 
rather a hazardous cure for weak intellects. 
Young men whose anchor had been certainty 
of themselves went into that class floating 
buoyantly on the sea of facts, and came out 
all adrift — on the sea of theory — in an open 
boat — rudderless — one oar — the boat scuttled. 
How could they think there was any chance 
for them, when the Professor was not even 
sure of himself? I see him rising in a daze 
from his chair and putting his hands through 
his hair. " Do I exist," he said, thoughtfull}^ 
" strictly so-called ? " The .students (if it was 
the beginning of the session) looked a little 
startled. This was a matter that had not 
previously disturbed them. Still, if the Pro- 
fessor was in doubt, there must be something 
in it. He began to argue it out, and an 
uncomfortable silence held the room in awe. 
If he did not exist, the chances were that they 
did not exist either. It was thus a personal 



PROFESSOR rAMPBEIJ. ERASER. 59 

question. The Professor glanced round slowly 
for an illustration. " Am I a table ? " A 
pained look travelled over the class. Was it 
just possible that they were all tables ? It is 
no wonder that the students who do not go to 
the bottom during their first month of meta- 
physics begin to give themselves airs strictl)- 
so-called. In the privacy of their room at 
the top of the house they pinch themselves to 
see if they arc still there. 

He would, I think, be a sorry creature who 
did not find something to admire in Campbell 
Eraser. Metaphysics may not trouble you, as 
it troubles him, but you do not sit under the 
man without seeing his transparent honesty 
and feeling that he is genuine. In appear- 
ance and in habit of thought he is an ideal 
philosopher, and his communings with himself 
have lifted him to a level of serenity that is 
worth struggling for. Of all the arts profes- 
sors in Edinburgh he is probably the most 
difficult to understand, and students in a hurry 
have called his lectures childish. If so, it may 
be all the better for them. Eor the first half 
of the hour, they say, he tells you what he is 



6o AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

eoincr to do, and for the second half he revises. 
Certainly he is vastly explanatory, but then 
he is not so young as they are, and so he has 
his doubts. They are so cock-sure that they 
wonder to see him hesitate. Often there is a 
mist on the mountain when it is all clear in 
the valley. 

Eraser's great work in his edition of 
Berkeley, a labour of love that should live 
after him. He has two Berkeleys, the large 
one and the little one, and, to do him justice, 
it was the little one he advised us to consult. 
I never read the large one myself, which is in 
a number of monster tomes, but I often had a 
look at it in the library, and I was proud to 
think that an Edinburgh professor was the 
editor. When Glasgow men came through to 
talk of their professors we showed them the 
big Berkeley, and after that they were reason- 
able. There was one man in my year who 
really began the large Berkeley, but after a 
time he was missing, and it is believed that 
some day he will be found flattened between 
the pages of the first volume. 

The " Selections " was the text-book we 



PROFESSOR CAMPUELL ERASICR. 6 1 

used in the class. It is surficicnt to prove that 
Berkeley wrote beautiful Eni^lish. I am not 
sure that any one has written such English 
since. Wc have our own " stylists," but how 
self-conscious the}' are after Berkeley. It is 
seven years since I opened my " Selections," 
but I see that I was once more of a metaphy- 
sician than I have been giving myself credit 
for. The book is scribbled over with posers in 
my handwriting about dualism and primary 
realities. Some of the comments are in short- 
hand, which I must at one time have been 
able to read, but all are equally unintelligible 
now. Here is one of my puzzlers : — " Does 
B here mean impercipient and unperceived 
subject or conscious and percipient subject ? " 
Observe the friendly B. I daresay farther on 
I shall find myself referring to the Professor 
as F. I wonder if I ever discovered what B 
meant. I could not now tell what I meant 
myself. 

As many persons are aware, the " Selections" 
consist of Berkeley's text with the Pro- 
fessor's notes thereon. The notes are expla- 
natory of the text, and the student must find 



62 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

them an immense help. Here, for instance, 
is a note : — " Pheaomenal or sense dependent 
existence can be substantiated and caused 
only by a self-conscious spirit, for otherwise 
there could be no propositions about it expres- 
sive of what is conceivable ; on the other 
hand, to affirm that phenomenal or sense 
dependent existence, which alone we know, 
and which alone is conceivable, is, or even 
represents, an inconceivable non-phenomenal 
or abstract existence, would be to affirm a 
contradiction in terms." There we have it. 

As a metaphysician I was something of a 
disappointment. I began well, standing, if I 
recollect aright, in the three examinations, 
first, seventeenth, and seventy-seventh. A 
man who sat beside me — man was the word 
we used — gazed at me reverently when I 
came out first, and I could see by his eye 
that he was not sure whether I existed 
properly so-called. By the second exam, his 
doubts had gone, and by the third he was 
surer of me than of himself. He came out 
fifty-seventh, this being the grand triumph of 
his college course. He was the same whose 



I'ROl'ESSUR CAMl'UKLL ERASER. 6^ 

key translated c/'ds doiiabcris hacdo " To- 
niorrow }'ou will be [)resented with a kid," 
but who, thinkint^ that a little vulgar, refined 
it down to " To-morrow you will be presented 
with a small child." 

In the metai)hysics class 1 was like the 
fountains in the quadrangle, which ran dry 
toward the middle of the session. While 
things were still looking hopeful for me, I had 
an invitation to breakfast with the Professor. 
If the fates had been so propitious as to for- 
ward me that invitation, it is possible that I 
might be a metaphysician to this day, but 1 
had changeci my lodgings, and when I heard 
of the affair, all was over. The Professor 
asked me to stay behind one day after the lec- 
ture, and told me that he had got his note back 
with " Left : no address," on it. " However,'' 
he said, " you may keep this," presenting me 
with the invitation for the Saturday previously. 
1 mention this to show that even professors 
have hearts. That letter is preserved with 
the autographs of three editors, none of 
which anybody can read. 

There was once a medical student who 



64 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

came up to my rooms early in the session, 
and I proved to him in half an hour that he 
did not exist. He got quite frightened, and I 
can still see his white face as he sat staring at 
me in the gloaming. This shows what meta- 
physics can do. He has recovered, however, 
and is sheep-farming now, his examiners never 
having asked him the right questions. 

The last time Fraser ever addressed me 
was when I was capped. He said, " I con- 
gratulate you, Mr. Smith " : and one of the 
other professors said, " I congratulate you, 
Mr. Fisher." My name is neither Smith nor 
Fisher, but no doubt the thing was kindly 
meant. It was then, however, that the pro- 
fessor of metaphysics had his revenge on me. 
I had once spelt Fraser with a " z " 



VII. 

PROFESSOR CHRYSTAL. 

TlfHEN Chrystal came to Edinburgh he 
* • rooted up the humours of the classroom 
as a dentist draws teeth. Souls were sold for 
keys that could be carried in the waistcoat 
pocket. Ambition fell from heights, and lay 
with its eye on a certificate. By night was a 
rush of ghosts, shrieking for passes. Horse 
play fled before the Differential Calculus in 
spectacles. 

I had Chrystal's first year, and recall the 
gloomy student sitting before me who hacked 
"All hope abandon ye who enter here" into 
a desk that may have confined Carlyle. It 
took him a session, and he was digging his 
own grave, for he never got through ; but it 
was something to hold by, something he felt 
sure of. All else was spiders' webs in chalk. 
Chrystal was a fine hare for the hounds who 
could keep up with him. He started off the 
5 



66 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

first day with such a spurt tliat most of us 
were left behind mopping our faces, and say- 
ing, " Here's a fellow," which is what Mr. 
Stevenson says Shakespeare would have re- 
marked about Mr. George Meredith. We 
never saw him again. The men who were 
on speaking acquaintance with his symbols 
revelled in him as students love an enthusiast 
who is eager to lead them into a world toward 
which they would journey. He was a rare 
puide for them. The bulk, however, lost him 
in labyrinths. They could not but admire 
their brilliant professor ; but while their friend 
the medalist and he kept the conversation 
to themselves, they felt like eavesdroppers 
hearkening to a pair of lovers. " It is beauti- 
ful," they cried, "but this is no place for us ; 
let us away." 

A good many went, but their truancy stuck 
in their throats like Otway's last roll. The 
M.A. was before them. They had fancied it 
in their hands, but it became shy as a maiden 
from the day they learned Chrystal's heresy 
that Euclid is not mathematics but only some 
riders in it. This snapped the cord that had 



PROFESSOR CHRYSTAL. 6/ 

tied the blind man to his dog, and the M.A, 
shot down the horizon. When Rutherford 
dehvered his first lecture in the chair of Insti- 
tutes of Medicine, boisterous students drowned 
his voice, and he flung out of the room. At 
the door he paused to say, " Gentlemen, we 
shall meet again at Philippi." A dire bomb 
was this in the midst of them, warranted to 
go off, none able to cast it overboard. We, 
too, had our Philippi before us. Chrystal could 
not be left to his own devices. 

I had never a passion for knowing that 
when circles or triangles attempt impossi- 
bilities it is absurd ; and .x was an unknown 
quantity I was ever content to walk round 
about. To admit to Chrystal that we under- 
stood X was only a way he had of leading you 
on to y and .c. I gave him his chance, how- 
ever, by contributing a paper of answers to 
his first weekly set of exercises. When the 
hour for returning the slips came round, I was 
there to accept fame — if so it was to be — with 
modesty ; and if it was to be humiliation, still 
to smile. The Professor said there was one 
paper, with an owner's name on it, which he 



68 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

could not read, and it was handed along the 
class to be deciphered. My presentiment 
that it was mine became a certainty when 
it reached my hand ; but I passed it on 
pleasantly, and it returned to Chrystal, a 
Japhet that never found its father. Feeling 
that the powers were against me, I then re- 
tired from the conflict, sanguine that the 
teaching of my mathematical schoolmaster, 
the best that could be, would pull me through. 
The Disowned may be going the round of the 
classroom still. 

The men who did not know when they were 
beaten returned to their seats, and doggedly 
took notes, their faces lengthening daily. 
Their note-books reproduced exactly the 
hieroglyphics of the blackboard, and, ex- 
amined at night, were as suggestive as the 
photographs of persons one has never seen. 
To overtake Chrystal after giving him a start 
was the presumption that is an offshoot from 
despair. There was once an elderly gentle- 
man who for years read the Times every day 
from the first page to the last. For a fort- 
night he was ill of a fever ; but, on recovering, 



PROFESSOR CIIRYSTAL. 69 

he began at the copy of the Times where he 
had left off. He struggled magnificently to 
make up on the Times, but it was in vain. 
This is an allegory for the way these students 
panted after Chrystal. 

Some succumbed and joined the majority — 
literally ; for to mathematics they were dead. 
I never hear of the old University now, nor 
pass under the shadow of the walls one loves 
when he is done with them, without seeing 
myself as I was the day I matriculated, an 
awestruck boy, passing and repassing the 
gates, frightened to venture inside, breathing 
heavily at sight of janitors, Scott and Carlyle 
in the air. After that I see nothing fuller of 
colour than the meetings that were held out- 
side Chrystal's door. Adjoining it is a class- 
room so little sought for, that legend tells of 
its door once showing the notice : " There 
will be no class to-day as the student is un- 
well." The crowd round Chrystal's could 
have filled that room. It was composed of 
students hearkening at the door to see 
whether he was to call their part of the roll 
to-day. If he did, they slunk in ; if not, the 



70 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

crowd melted into the streets, this refrain in 
their ears — 

" I'm plucked, I do admit, 

I'm spun, my mother dear, 
Yet do not grieve for that 

Which happens every year. 
I've waited very patiently, 

I may have long to wait, 
But you've another son, mother, 

And he will graduate." 

A professor of mathematics once brought 
a rowdy student from the back benches to a 
seat beside him, because — "First, you'll be near 
the board ; second, you'll be near me ; and, 
third, you'll be near the door." Chrystal soon 
discovered that students could be too near the 
door, and he took to calling the roll in the 
middle of the hour, which insured an increased 
attendance. It was a silent class, nothing 
heard but the patter of pencils, rats scraping 
for grain, of which there was abundance, but 
not one digestion in a bench. To smuggle 
in a novel up one's waistcoat was perilous, 
Chrystal's spectacles doing their work. At 
a corner of the platform sat the assistant, 
with a constable's authority, but not formed 



rROTn<:ssoR ciirvstal. 71 

for swooping-, uneasy because he had legs, 
and where to put them he knew not. He got 
through the hour by shifting his position every 
five minutes ; and, sitting there waiting, he 
reminded one of the boy who, on being told 
to remain so quietly where he was that he 
could hear a pin drop, held his breath a 
moment, then shouted, " Let it drop!" An 
excellent fellow was this assistant, who told 
us that one of his predecessors had got three 
months. 

A jest went as far in that class as a plum in 
the midshipmen's pudding, and, you remem- 
ber, when the middies came on a plum they 
gave three cheers. In the midcile of some 
brilliant reasoning Chrystal would stop to add 
4, 7, and 1 1. Addition of this kind was the 
only thing he could not do, and he looked to 
the class for help — " 20," they shouted, " 24," 
" 17," while he thought it over. These appeals 
to their intelligence made them beam. They 
woke up as a sleepy congregation shakes itself 
into life when the minister says, " I remember 
when I was a little boy. . . ." 

The daring spirits — say, those who were 



72 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

going into their father's office, and so did not 
look upon Chrystal as a door locked to their 
advancement — sought to bring sunshine into 
the room. Chrystal soon had the blind down 
on that. I hear they have been at it recently 
with the usual result. To relieve the mono- 
tony, a student at the end of bench ten dropped 
a marble, which toppled slowly downward 
toward the Professor. At every step it took 
there was a smothered guffaw ; but Chrystal, 
who was working at the board, did not turn 
his head. When the marble reached the 
floor, he said, still with his back to the class, 
" Will the student at the end of bench ten, 
who dropped that marble, stand up ? " All 
eyes dilated. He had counted the falls of the 
marble from step to step. Mathematics do 
not obscure the intellect. 

Twenty per cent, was a good percentage in 
Chrystal's examinations ; thirty sent you away 
whistling. As the M.A. drew nigh, students 
on their prospects might have been farmers 
discussing the weather. Some put their faith 
in the Professor's goodness of heart, of which 
symptoms had been showing. He would 



PROFESSOR CTIRYSTAL. 73 

not, all at once, " raise the standard " — hated 
phrase until you are through, when you write 
to the papers advocating it. Courage ! was it 
not told of the Glasgow Sncll competition 
that one of the competitors, as soon as he saw 
the first paper, looked for his hat and the door, 
that he was forbidden to withdraw until an 
hour had elapsed, and that he then tackled 
the paper and ultimately carried off the Snell ? 
Of more immediate interest, perhaps, was the 
story of the quaking student, whose neighbour 
handed him in pencil, beneath the desk, the 
answer to several questions. It was in an 
M.A. exam., and the affrighted student found 
that he could not read his neighbour's notes. 
Trusting to fortune, he enclosed them with his 
own answers, writing at the top, " No time to 
write these out in ink, so enclose them in 
pencil." He got through : no moral. 

A condemned criminal wondering if he is 
to get a reprieve will not feel the position 
novel, if he has loitered in a University quad- 
rangle waiting for the janitor to nail up the 
results of a degree exam. A queer gathering 
we were, awaiting the verdict of Chrystal. 



74 AN EDTNBURfUI EI.EVEN. 

Some compressed their lips, others were lively 
as fireworks dipped in water ; there were those 
who rushed round and round the quadrangle ; 
only one went the Icnc^th of saying that he 
did not want to pass. H. I shall call him. I 
met him the other day in Fleet Street, and he 
annoyed me by asking at once if I remem- 
bered the landlady I quarrelled with because 
she wore my socks to church of a Sunday ; 
we found her out one wet forenoon. H. 
waited the issue with a cigar in his mouth. 
He had purposely, he explained, given in a 
bad paper. He could not understand why 
men were so anxious to get through. He had 
ten reasons for wishing to be plucked. We 
let him talk. The janitor appeared with the 
fateful paper, and we lashed about him like 
waves round a lighthouse, all but H., who 
strolled languidly to the board to which the 
paper was being fastened. A moment after- 
wards I heard a shriek, " I'm through ! I'm 
through ! " It was H. His cigar was dashed 
aside, and he sped like an arrow from the bow 
to the nearest telegraph office, shouting " I'm 
through ! " as he ran. 



PROFESSOR CIIRYSTAl,. 75 

Those of US who had IT.'s fortune now con- 
sider Chrystal made to order for his chair, but 
he has never, perhaps, had a proper apprecia- 
tion of the cliarming fellows who get ten per 
cent. 



VIII. 

PROFESSOR SELLAR. 

WHEN one of the distinguished hunting 
ladies who chase celebrities captured 
Mr. Mark Pattison, he gave anxious con- 
sideration to the quotation which he was 
asked to write above his name. " Fancy," 
he said with a shudder, " going down to 
posterity arm in arm with carpe dkui I " 
Remembering this, I forbear tying Sellar to 
odi profaniivi viilgus. Yet the name opens 
the door to the quotation. 

Sellar is a Roman senator. He stood 
very high at Oxford, and took a prize for 
boxing. If you watch him in the class, you 
will sometimes see his mind murmuring that 
Edinburgh students do not take their play 
like Oxford men. The difference is in man- 
ner. A courteous fellow-student of Sellar 
once showed his relatives over Balliol. " You 
have now, I think," he said at last, " seen 



78 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

everything of interest except the Master." 
He flung a stone at a window, at which the 
Master's head appeared immediately, menac- 
ing, wrathful. " And now," concluded the 
polite youth, " you have seen him also." 

Mr. James Payn, who never forgave the 
Scottish people for pulling down their blinds 
on Sundays, was annoyed by the halo they 
have woven around the name " Professor." 
He knew an Edinburgh lady who was scan- 
dalized because that mere poet, Alexander 
Smith, coolly addressed professors by their 
surnames. Mr. Payn might have know" 
what it is to walk in the shadow of a Senatus 
Academicus, could he have met such speci- 
mens as Sellar, Fraser, Tait, and Sir Alexan- 
der Grant marching down the Bridges abreast. 
I have seen them : an inspiriting sight. The 
pavement only held three. You could have 
shaken hands with them from an upper win- 
dow. 

Sellar's treatment of his students was 
always that of a fine gentleman. Few got 
near him ; all respected him. At times he 
was addressed in an unknown tongue, but he 



PROFESSOR SELLAR. 79 

kept his countenance. He was particular 
about students keeping to their proper 
benches, and once thought he had caught 
a swarthy north countryman straying. " You 
are in your wrong seat, Mr. Orr." " Na, am 
richt eneuch." " You should be in the seat 
in front. That is bench 12, and you are 
entered on bench 10." " Eh ? This is no 
bench twal, (counting) twa, fower, sax, audit, 
ten." " There is something wrong." " Oh-h-h 
(with sudden enlightenment) ye've been coon- 
tin' the first dask ; we dinna coont the first 
dask." The Professor knew the men he had 
to deal with too well to scorn this one, who 
turned out to be a fine fellow. He was the 
only man I ever knew who ran his medical 
and arts classes together, and so many lectures 
had he to attend daily that he mixed them up. 
He graduated, however, in both faculties in 
five years, and the last I heard of him was 
that, when applying for a medical assistant- 
ship, he sent his father's photograph because 
he did not have one of himself He was a 
man of brains as well as sinew, and dined 
briskly on a shilling a week. 



80 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

There was a little fellow in the class who 
was a puzzle to Sellar, because he was higher 
sitting than standing : when the Professor 
asked him to stand up, he stood down. " Is 
Mr. Blank not present ? " Sellar would ask. 
" Here, sir," cried Blank. " Then, will you 
stand up, Mr. Blank ? " (Agony of Blank, 
and a demonstration of many feet.) " Are 
you not prepared, Mr. Blank } " " Yes, sir ; 
Pastor quuin traJiarct — " " I insist on your 
standing up, Mr. Blank." (Several students 
rise to their feet to explain, but subside.) 
" Yes, sir ; Pastor quiim traJiaret per — " " I 
shall mark you ' not prepared,' Mr. Blank." 
(Further demonstration, and then an indig- 
nant squeak from Blank.) "If you please, 
sir, I am standing." " But, in that case, how 
is it — .^ Ah, oh, ah, yes ; proceed, Mr. 
Blank." As one man was only called upon 
for exhibition five or six times in a year, the 
Professor had always forgotten the circum- 
stances when he asked Blank to stand up 
again. Blank was looked upon by his fellow- 
students as a practical jest, and his name was 
always received with the prolonged applause 



PROFESSOR SEL1,AR. Si 

which greets the end of an after-dinner 

speech. 

Sellar never showed resentment to the 

students who addressed him as Professor 

Sellars. 

One day the Professor was giving out some 

English to be translated into Latin prose. 

He read on — " and fiercely lifting the axe with 

both hands — " when a cheer from the top 

bench made him pause. The cheer spread 

over the room like an uncorked gas. 

Sellar frowned, but proceeded — " lifting the 
axe — ," when again the class became de- 
mented. "What does this mean?" he 
demanded, looking as if he, too, could lift 
the axe. "Axe!" shouted a student in ex- 
planation. Still Sellar could not solve the 
riddle. Another student rose to his assist- 
ance. " Axe— Gladstone ! " he cried. Sellar 
sat back in his chair. " Really, gentle- 
men," he said, " I take the most elaborate 
precautions against touching upon politics 
in this class, but sometimes you are beyond 
me. Let us continue — ' and fiercely lifting 
his weapon with both hands — .' " 
6 



82 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

The duxes from the schools suffered a little 
during their first year, from a feeling that 
they and Sellar understood each other. He 
liked to undeceive them. We had one, all 
head, who went about wondering at himself 
He lost his bursary on the way home with it, 
and still he strutted. Sellar asked if wc saw 
anything peculiar in a certain line from 
Horace. We did not. We were accustomed 
to trust to Horace's reputation, all but the 
dandy. " Eh — ah ! Professor," he lisped ; 
" it ought to have been so and so." Sellar 
looked at this promising plant from the 
schools, and watered him without a rose on 
the pan. " Depend upon it, Mr. — ; ah, I did 
not catch your name, if it ought to have been 
so and so, Horace would have made it so and 
so." 

Sellar's face was proof against sudden wit. 
It did not relax till he gave it liberty. You 
could never tell from it what was going on in- 
side. He read without a twitch a notice on 
his door : " Found in this class a gold-headed 
pencil case ; if not claimed within three days 
will be sold to defray expenses." He even 



PROFESSOR SELLAR. 03 

withstood the battering ram on the clay of the 
pubhcation of his " Augustan Poets." The 
students could not let this opportunity pass. 
They assailed him with frantic applause 
every bench was a drum to thump upon. Mis 
countenance said nothing. The drums had 
it in the end, though, and he dismissed the 
class with what is believed to have verged 
on a smile. Like the lover who has got his 
lady's glance, they at once tried for more, but 
no. 

Most of us had Humanity our first year, 
which is the year for experimenting. Then 
is the time to join the University library. 
The pound, which makes you a member, has 
never had its poet. You can withdraw your 
pound when you please. There are far-see- 
ing men who work the whole thing out by 
mathematics. Put simply, this is the notion. 
In the beginning of the session you join the 
library, and soon you forget about your 
pound ; you reckon without it. As the winter 
closes in, and the coal-bunk empties ; or you 
find that five shillings a week for lodgings is a 
dream that cannot be kept up ; or your coat 



84 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

assumes more and more the colour identified 
with spring ; or you would feast your friends 
for once right gloriously ; or next Wednesday 
is your little sister's birthday ; you cower, 
despairing, over a sulky fire. Suddenly you 
are on your feet, all aglow once more. What 
is this thought that sends the blood to 
your head ? That library pound ! You had 
forgotten that you had a bank. Next morn- 
ing you are at the university in time to help 
the library door to open. You ask for your 
pound ; you get it. Your hand mounts guard 
over the pocket in which it rustles. So they 
say. I took their advice and paid in my 
money ; then waited exultingly to forget 
about it. In vain. I always allowed for that 
pound in my thoughts. I saw it as plainly, I 
knew its every feature as a schoolboy re- 
members his first trout. Not to be hasty, I 
gave my pound two months, and then brought 
it home again. I had a fellow-student who 
lived across the way from me. We railed at 
the library pound theory at open windows 
over the life of the street ; a beautiful dream, 
but mad, mad. 



PROFESSOR SELLAR. 85 

He was an enthusiast, and therefore happy, 
whom I have seen in the Humanity class- 
room on an examination day, his pen racing 
with time, himself seated in the contents of 
an ink-bottle. Some stories of exams, have 
even a blacker ending. I write in tears of 
him who, estimating his memory as a leaky 
vessel, did with care and forethought draw 
up a crib that was more condensed than a 
pocket cyclopaedia, a very Liebig's essence of 
the classics, tinned meat for students in the 
eleventh hour. Bridegrooms have been 
known to forget the ring ; this student for- 
got his crib. In the middle of the examina- 
tion came a nervous knocking at the door. 
A lady wanted to see the Professor at once. 
The student looked up, to see his mother 
handing the Professor his crib. Her son had 
forgotten it ; she was sure that it was im- 
portant, so she had brought it herself 

Jump the body of this poor victim. There 
was no M.A. for him that year ; but in our 
gowns and sashes we could not mourn for a 
might-have-been. Soldiers talk of the Vic- 
toria Cross, statesmen of the Cabinet, ladies 



86 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

of a pearl set in diamonds. These arc pretty 
baubles, but who has thrilled as the student 
that with bumping heart strolls into Middle- 
mass's to order his graduate's gown. He 
hires it — five shillings — but the photograph 
to follow makes it as good as his for life. 
Look at him, young ladies, as he struts to 
the Synod Hall to have M.A. tacked to his 
name. Dogs do not dare bark at him. His 
gait is springy ; in Princes Street he is as one 
vvho walks upstairs. Gone to me are those 
student days for ever, but I can still put a 
photograph before me of a ghost in gown and 
cape, the hair straggling under the cap as 
tobacco may straggle over the side of a tin 
when there is difficulty in squeezing down the 
lid. How well the little black jacket looks, 
how vividly the wearer remembers putting it 
on. He should have worn a dress-coat, but 
he had none. The little jacket resembled 
one with the tails off, and, as he artfully 
donned his gown, he backed against the wall 
so that no one might know. 

To turn up the light on old college days is 
not always the signal for the dance. You are 



PROFESSOR SELLAR. 8/ 

back in the dusty little lodging, with its 
battered sofa, its slippery tablecloth, the 
prim array of books, the picture of the death 
of Nelson, the peeling walls, the broken clock ; 
you are again in the quadrangle with him who 
has been dead this many a year. There are 
tragedies in a college course. Dr. Walter 
Smith has told in a poem mentioned elsewhere 
of the brilliant scholar who forgot his dominie ; 
some, alas ! forget their mother. There are 
men — I know it — who go mad from loneliness ; 
and medalists ere now have crept home to 
die. The capping-day was the end of our 
spring-tide, and for some of us the summer 
was to be brief. Sir Alexander, gone into 
the night since then, flung " I mekemae " at 
us as we trooped past him, all in bud, some 
small flower to blossom in time, let us hope, 
here and there. 



IX. 

MR. JOSEPH THOMSON. 

TWO years hence Joseph Thomson's repu- 
tation will be a decade old, though he 
is at present only thirty years of age. When 
you meet him for the first time you con- 
clude that he must be the explorer's son. 
His identity, however, can always be proved 
by simply mentioning Africa in his presence. 
Then he draws himself up, and his eyes 
glisten, and he is thinking how glorious it 
would be to be in the Masai country again, 
livine: on meat so diseased that it crumbled 
in the hand like short-bread. 

Gatelaw-bridge Quarry, in Dumfriesshire, is 
famous for Old Mortality and Thomson, the 
latter (when he is at the head of a caravan) 
being as hardheaded as if he had been cut 
out of it. He went to school at Thornhill, 
where he spent great part of his time in 
reading novels, and then he matriculated at 



90 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

Edinburgh University, where he began to 
accumulate medals. Geology and kindred 
studies were his favourites there. One day 
he heard that Keith Johnston, then on the 
point of starting for Africa, wanted a lieu- 
tenant. Thomson was at that time equally 
in need of a Keith Johnston, and everybody 
who knew him saw that the opening and he 
were made for each other. Keith Johnston 
and Thomson went out together, and Johnston 
died in the jungle. This made a man in an 
hour of a stripling. Most youths in Thom- 
son's position at that turning point of his 
career would have thought it judicious to turn 
back, and in geographical circles it would 
have been considered highly creditable had 
be brought his caravan to the coast intact. 
Thomson, however, pushed on, and did every- 
thing that his dead leader had hoped to do. 
From that time his career has been followed 
by every one interested in African explora- 
tion, and by his countrymen with some pride 
in addition. When an expedition was or- 
ganized for the relief of Emin Pasha, there 
was for a time some probability of Thomson's 



MR. JOSEPH THOMSON. 9 1 

having- the command. He and Stanley 
differed as to the routes that should be taken, 
and subsequent events have proved that 
Thomson's was the proper one. 

Thomson came over from Paris at that 
time to consult with the authorities, and 
took up his residence in the most over-grown 
hotel in London. His friends here organized 
an expedition for his relief. They wandered 
up and down the endless stairs looking for 
him, till, had they not wanted to make 
themselves a name, they would have beaten 
a retreat. He also wandered about looking 
for them, and at last they met. The leader 
of the party, restraining his emotion, lifted 
his hat, and said, " Mr. Thomson, 1 pre- 
sume ? " This is how I found Thomson. 

The explorer had been for some months in 
Paris at that time, and Prance did him the 
honour of translating his " Through Masai- 
land " into Prench. In this book there is a 
picture of a buffalo tossing Thomson in the 
air. This was after he had put several 
bullets into it, and in the sketch he is repre- 
sented some ten feet from the ground, with 



92 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

his gun flying one way and his cap another. 
" It was just as if I were distributing largess 
to the natives," the traveller says now, though 
this idea does not seem to have struck him 
at the time. He showed the sketch to a 
Parisian lady, who looked at it long and 
earnestly. " Ah, M. Thomson," she said at 
length, " but how could you pose like that ? " 

Like a good many other travellers, inclu- 
ding Mr. Du Chaillu, who says he is a dear 
bo}', Thomson does not smoke. Stanley, 
however, smokes very strong cigars, as those 
who have been in his sumptuous chambers in 
Bond Street can testify. All the three hap- 
pen to be bachelors, though ; because, one 
of them says, after returning from years of 
lonely travel, a man has such a delight in 
female society that to pick and choose would 
be invidious. Yet they have had their 
chance. An African race once tried to bribe 
Mr. Du Chaillu with a kingdom and over 
eight hundred wives, — " the biggest offer," he 
admits, " I ever had in one day." 

Among the lesser annoyances to which 
Thomson was subjected in Africa was the 



]\iR. josEni THOMSON. 93 

presence of rats in the night-time, which he 
had to brush away Hke flics. Until he was 
asked whether there was not danger in this, 
it never seems to have struck him that it 
was more than annoying. Yet though he 
and the two other travellers mentioned 
(doubtless they are not alone in this) have 
put up cheerfully with almost every hardship 
known to man, this does not make them 
indifferent to the comforts of civilization 
when they return home. Du Chaillu was 
looking very comfortable in a house-boat the 
other day, where his hosts thought they were 
"roughing it" — with a male attendant ; and 
in Stanley's easy chairs you sink to dream. 
The last time I saw Thomson in his rooms in 
London he was on his knees, gazing in silent 
rapture at a china saucer with a valuable 
crack in it. 

If you ask Thomson what was the most 
dangerous expedition he ever embarked on, 
he will probably reply, " Crossing Piccadilly." 
The finest thing that can be said of him is 
that during these four expeditions he never 
once fired a shot at a native. Other ex- 



94 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

plorers have had to do so to save their 
hves. There were often occasions when 
Thomson could have done it, to save his Hfe 
to all appearance, too. The result of his 
method of progressing is that where he has 
gone— and he has been in parts of Africa 
never before trod by the white man — he 
really has " opened up the country " for those 
who care to follow him. Civilization bj^ 
bullet has only closed it elsewhere. Yet 
though there is an abundance of Scotch 
caution about him, he is naturally an impul- 
sive man, more inclined personally to march 
straight on than to reach his destination by a 
safer if more circuitous route. Where only 
his own life is concerned he gives you the 
impression of one who might be rash, but his 
prudence at the head of a caravan is at the 
bottom of the faith that is placed in him. 
According to a story that got into the papers 
years ago, M. de Brazza once quarrelled with 
Thomson in Africa, and all but struck him. 
Thomson was praised for keeping his temper. 
The story was a fabrication, but I fear that 
if M. de Brazza had behaved like this, 



MR. JOSEPIT THOMSON. 95 

Thomson would not have rcmcmbcrctl to be 
diplomatic till some time afterwards. A 
truer tale might be told of an umbrella, 
gorgeous and wonderful to behold, that De 
Braza took to Africa to impress the natives 
with, and which Thomson subsequently pre- 
sented to a dusky monarch. 

The explorer has never shot a lion, though 
he has tracked a good many of them. Once 
he thought he had one. It was reclining in 
a little grove, and Thomson felt that it was 
his at last. With a trusty native he crept 
forward till he could obtain a good shot, 
and then fired. In breathless suspense he 
waited for its spring, and then when it did 
not spring he saw that he had shot it through 
the heart. However, it turned out only to be 
a large stone. 

The young Scotchman sometimes thinks 
of the tremendous effect it would have had 
on the natives had he been the possessor of 
a complete set of artificial teeth. This is 
because he has one artificial tooth. Hap- 
pening to take it out one day, an awe filled 
all who saw him, and from that hour he 



g6 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

was esteemed a medicine man. Another 
excellent way of impressing Africa with the 
grandeur of Britain was to take a photograph. 
When the natives saw the camera aimed at 
them they fell to the ground vanquished. 

When Thomson was recently in this 
country, he occasionally took a walk of 
twenty or thirty miles to give him an appe- 
tite for dinner. This he calls a stroll. One 
day he strolled from Thornhill to Edinburgh, 
had dinner, and then went to the Exhibition. 
In appearance he is tall and strongly knit 
rather than heavily built, and if you see him 
more than once in the same week, you dis- 
cover that he has still an interest in neck- 
ties. Perhaps his most remarkable feat 
consisted in taking a bottle of brandy into 
the heart of Africa, and bringing it back 
intact. 



X. 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. 

QOME men of letters, not necessarily the 
^ greatest, have an indescribable charm to 
which we give our hearts. Thackeray is the 
young man's first love. Of living authors 
none perhaps bewitches the reader more 
than Mr. Stevenson, who plays upon words 
as if they were a musical instrument. To 
follow the music is less difficult than to 
place the musician. A friend of mine, who, 
like Mr. Grant Allen, reviews 365 books a 
year, and 366 in leap years, recently arranged 
the novelists of to-day in order of merit 
Meredith, of course, he wrote first, and then 
there was a fall to Hardy. " Haggard," he 
explained, "I dropped from the Eiffel Tower; 
but what can I do with Stevenson ? I can't 
put him before ' Lorna Doone.' " So Mr. 
Stevenson puzzles the critics, fascinating 
them until they are willing to judge him by 
7 



98 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

the great work he is to write by and by 
when the Httle books are finished. Over 
" Treasure Island " I let my fire die in 
winter without knowing that I was freezing. 
But the creator of Alan Breck has now 
published nearly twenty volumes. It is so 
much easier to finish the little works than to 
begin the great one, for which we are all 
taking notes. 

Mr. Stevenson is not to be labelled nove- 
list. He wanders the byways of literature 
without any fixed address. Too much of a 
truant to be classified with the other boys, 
he is only a writer of fiction in the sense that 
he was once an Edinburgh University stu- 
dent because now and again he looked in at 
his classes when he happened to be that way. 
A literary man without a fixed occupation 
amazes Mr. Henry James, a master in the 
school of fiction which tells, in three volumes, 
how Hiram K. Wilding trod on the skirt of 
Alice M. Sparkins without anything's coming 
of it. Mr. James analyzes Mr. Stevenson 
with immense cleverness, but without sum- 
ming up. That "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. 99 

should be by the author of " Treasure Is- 
land," " Virginibus Puerisque " by the author 
of " The New Arabian Nights," "A Child's 
Garden of Verses " by the author of " Prince 
Otto," are to him the three degrees of com- 
parison of wonder, though for my own part 
I marvel more that the author of " Daisy 
Miller" should be Mr. Stevenson's eulogist. 
One conceives Mr. James a boy in velveteens 
looking fearfully at Stevenson playing at 
pirates. 

There is nothing in Mr. Stevenson's some- 
times writing essays, sometimes romances, 
and anon poems to mark him versatile be- 
yond other authors. One dreads his continuing 
to do so, with so many books at his back, lest 
it means weakness rather than strength. He 
experiments too long ; he is still a boy 
wondering what he is going to be. With 
Cowley's candour he tells us that he wants to 
write something by which he may be for ever 
known. His attempts in this direction have 
been in the nature of trying different ways, 
and he always starts off whistling. Having 
gone so far without losing himself, he turns 



100 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

back to try another road. Does his heart 
fail him, despite his jaunty bearing, or is it 
because there is no hurry ? Though all his 
books are obviously by the same hand, no living 
writer has come so near fame from so many 
different sides. Where is the man among 
us who could write another " Virginibus 
Puerisque," the most delightful volume for 
the hammock ever sung in prose? The 
poems are as exquisite as they are artificial. 
" Jekyll and Hyde " is the greatest triumph 
extant in Christmas literature of the morbid 
kind. The donkey on the Cevennes (how 
Mr. Stevenson belaboured him !) only stands 
second to the " Inland Voyage." " Kid- 
napped " is the outstanding boy's book of its 
generation. " The Black Arrow " alone, to 
my thinking, is second-class. We shall all 
be doleful if a marksman who can pepper his 
target with inners does not reach the bull's- 
eye. But it is quite time the great work was 
begun. The sun sinks while the climber 
walks round his mountain, looking for the 
best way up. 

Hard necessity has kept some great 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. lOI 

writers from doing their best work, but Mr. 
Stevenson is at last so firmly established that 
if he continues to be versatile it will only 
be from choice. He has attained a popu- 
larity such as is, as a rule, only accorded to 
classic authors or to charlatans. For this he 
has America to thank rather that Britain, 
for the Americans buy his books, the only 
honour a writer's admirers are slow to pay 
him. Mr. Stevenson's reputation in the 
United States is creditable to that country, 
which has given him a position here in which 
only a few saw him when he left. Unfor- 
tunately, with popularity has come publicity. 
All day the reporters sit on his garden wall. 

No man has written in a finer spirit of the 
profession of letters than Mr. Stevenson, but 
this gossip vulgarizes it. The adulation of 
the American public and of a little band of 
clever literary dandies in London, great in 
criticism, of whom he has become the darling, 
has made Mr. Stevenson complacent, and he 
always tended perhaps to be a thought too 
fond of his velvet coat. There is danger in 
the delight with which his every scrap is now 

LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

RIVERSIDE 



102 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

received. A few years ago, when he was 
his own severest and sanest critic, he stopped 
the publication of a book after it was in proof 
— a brave act. He has lost this courage, or 
or he would have re-written " The Black 
Arrow." There is deterioration in the essays 
he has been contributing to an American 
magazine,' graceful and suggestive though 
they are. The most charming of living 
stylists, Mr. Stevenson is self-conscious in all 
his books now and again, but hitherto it has 
been the self-consciousness of an artist with 
severe critics at his shoulder. It has become 
self-satisfaction. The critics have put a 
giant's robe on him, and he has not flung 
it off. He dismisses " Tom Jones " with a 
simper. Personally Thackeray " scarce ap- 
peals to us as the ideal gentleman ; if there 
were nothing else [what else is there?], per- 
petual nosing after snobbery at least suggests 
the snob." From Mr. Stevenson one would 
not have expected the revival of this silly 
charge, which makes a cabbage of every man 
who writes about cabbages. I shall say no 
more of these ill-considered papers, though 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. IO3 

the sneers at Fielding call for indignant 
remonstrance, beyond expressing a hope 
that they lie buried between magazine covers. 
Mr. Stevenson has reached the critical point 
in his career, and one would like to see him 
back at Bournemouth, writing within high 
walls. We want that big book ; we think 
he is capable of it, and so we cannot afford 
to let him drift into the seaweed. About the 
writer with whom his name is so often 
absurdly linked we feel differently. It is 
as foolish to rail at Mr. Rider Haggard's 
complacency as it would be to blame Chris- 
topher Sly for so quickly believing that he 
was born a lord. 

The key - note of all Mr. Stevenson's 
writings is his indifference, so far as his 
books are concerned, to the affairs of life 
and death on which other minds are chiefly 
set. Whether man has an immortal soul 
interests him as an artist not a whit : what 
is to come of man troubles him as little 
as where man came from. He is a warm, 
genial writer, yet this is so strange as to 
seem inhuman. His philosophy is that we 



104 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

are but as the light-hearted birds. This is 
our moment of being ; let us play the in- 
toxicating game of life beautifully, artisti- 
cally, before we fall dead from the tree. 
We all know it is only in his books that Mr. 
Stevenson can live this life. The cry is to 
arms ; spears glisten in the sun ; see the 
brave bark riding joyously on the waves, the 
black flag, the dash of red colour twisting 
round a mountainside. Alas ! the drummer 
lies on a couch beating his drum. It is a 
pathetic picture, less true to fact now, one 
rejoices to know, tha^ it was recently. A 
common theory is that Mr, Stevenson dreams 
an ideal life to escape from his own suffer- 
ings. This sentimental plea suits very well. 
The noticeable thing, however, is that the 
grotesque, the uncanny, holds his soul ; his 
brain will only follow a coloured clue. The 
result is that he is chiefly picturesque, and, to 
those who want more than art for art's sake, 
never satisfying. Fascinating as his verses 
are, artless in the perfection of art, they take 
no reader a step forward. The children of 
whom he sings so sweetly are cherubs without 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. I05 

souls. It is not in poetry that Mr. Steven- 
son will give the great book to the world, 
nor will it, I think, be in the form of essays. 
Of late he has done nothing quite so fine as 
" Virginibus Puerisque," though most of his 
essays are gardens in which grow few weeds. 
Quaint in matter as in treatment, they are 
the best strictly literary essays of the day, 
and their mixture of tenderness with humour 
suggests Charles Lamb. Some think Mr. 
Stevenson's essays equal to Lamb's, or 
greater. To that I say No. The name of 
Lamb will for many a year bring proud tears 
to English eyes. Here was a man, weak like 
the rest of us, who kept his sorrows to him- 
self. Life to him was not among the trees. 
He had loved and lost. Grief laid a heavy 
hand on his brave brow. Dark were his 
nights ; horrid shadows in the house ; sudden 
terrors ; the heart stops beating waiting for 
a footstep. At that door comes Tragedy, 
knocking at all hours. Was Lamb dis- 
mayed ? The tragedy of his life was not 
drear to him. It was wound round those 
who were dearest to him ; it let him know 



I06 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

that life has a glory even at its saddest, 
that humour and pathos clasp hands, that 
loved ones are drawn nearer, and the soul 
strengthened in the presence of anguish, pain, 
and death. When Lamb sat down to write 
he did not pull down his blind on all that is 
greatest, if most awful, in human life. He 
was gentle, kindly ; but he did not play at 
pretending that there is no cemetery round 
the corner. In Mr. Stevenson's exquisite 
essays one looks in vain for the great heart 
that palpitates through the pages of Charles 
Lamb. 

The great work, if we are not to be disap- 
pointed, will be fiction. Mr. Stevenson is 
said to feel this himself, and, as I understand, 
" Harry Shovel " will be his biggest bid for 
fame. It is to be, broadly speaking, a nine- 
teenth-century " Peregrine Pickle," dashed 
with Meredith, and this in the teeth of 
many admirers who maintain that the best 
of the author is Scottish. Mr. Stevenson, 
however, knows what he is about. Critics 
have said enthusiastically — for it is difficult 
to write of Mr. Stevenson without enthusiasm 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. 10/ 

— that Alan Breck is as good as anything in 
Scott. Alan Breck is certainly a masterpiece, 
quite worthy of the greatest of all storytellers, 
who, nevertheless, it should be remembered, 
created these rich side characters by the 
score, another before dinner-time. English 
critics have taken Alan to their hearts, and 
appreciate him thoroughly ; the reason, no 
doubt, being that he is the character whom 
England acknowledges as the Scottish type. 
The Highlands, which are Scotland to the 
same extent as Northumberland is England, 
present such a character to this day, but no 
deep knowledge of Mr. Stevenson's native 
country was required to rep;"oduce him. An 
artistic Englishman or American could have 
done it. Scottish religion, I think, Mr, 
Stevenson has never understood, except as 
the outsider misunderstands it. He thinks 
it hard because there are no coloured win- 
dows. " The colour of Scotland has entered 
into him altogether," says Mr. James, who, 
we gather, conceives in Edinburgh Castle a 
a place where tartans glisten in the sun, while 
rocks re-echo bagpipes. Mr. James is right 



I08 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

in a way. It is the tartan, the claymore, the 
cry that the heather is on fire, that are Scot- 
land to Mr. Stevenson. But the Scotland 
of our day is not a country rich in colour ; a 
sombre grey prevails. Thus, though Mr. 
Stevenson's best romance is Scottish, that is 
only, I think, because of his extraordinary 
aptitude for the picturesque. Give him any 
period in any country that is romantic, and 
he will soon steep himself in the kind of 
knowledge he can best turn to account. 
Adventures suit him best, the ladies being 
left behind ; and so long as he is in fettle 
it matters little whether the scene be Scot- 
land or Spain. The great thing is that 
he should now give to one ambitious book 
the time in which he has hitherto written 
half a dozen small ones. He will have to 
take existence a little more seriously — to 
weave broadcloth instead of lace. 



XI. 

REV. WALTER C. SMITH, D.D. 

TOURING the four winters another and I 
*^ were in Edinburgh we never entered any 
but Free churches. This seems to have been 
less on account of a scorn for other denomi- 
nations than because we never thought of 
them. We felt sorry for the " men " who 
knew no better than to claim to be on the 
side of Dr. Macgregor. Even our Free 
kirks were limited to two, St. George's and 
the Free High. After all, we must have 
been liberally minded beyond most of our 
fellows, for, as a rule, those who frequented 
one of these churches shook their heads at 
the other. It is said that Dr. Whyte and 
Dr. Smith have a great appreciation of each 
other. They, too, are liberally minded. 

To contrast the two leading Free Church 
ministers in Edinburgh as they struck a 
student would be to become a boy again» 



no AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

The one is always ready to go on fire, and 
the other is sometimes at hand with a jug 
of cold water. Dr. Smith counts a hundred 
before he starts, whilst the minister of Free 
St. George's is off at once at a gallop, and 
would always arrive first at his destination if 
he had not sometimes to turn back. He is 
not only a Gladstonian, but Gladstonian ; his 
enthusiasm carries him on as steam drives 
the engine. Dr. Smith being a critic, with a 
faculty of satire, what would rouse the one 
man makes the other smile. Dr. Whyte 
judges you as you are at the moment ; Dr. 
Smith sees what you will be like to-morrow. 
Some years ago the defeated side in a great 
Assembly fight met at a breakfast to reason 
itself into a belief that it had gained a 
remarkable moral victory. Dr. Whyte and 
Dr. Smith were both present, and the former 
was so inspiriting that the breakfast became 
a scene of enthusiasm. Then Dr. Smith 
arose and made a remark about a company 
of Mark Tapleys — after which the meeting 
broke up. 

I have a curious reminiscence of the 



REV. WALTER C. SMITH, D.D. Ill 

student who most frequently accompanied 
me to church in Edinburgh. One Sunday 
when we were on our way up slushy Bath 
Street to Free St. George's he discovered that 
he had not a penny for the plate. I sug- 
gested to him to give twopence next time; 
but no, he turned back to our lodgings for 
the penny. Sometime afterwards he found 
himself in the same position when we were 
nearing the Free High. " I'll give twopence 
next time," he said, cheerfully. I have 
thought this over since then, and wondered if 
there was anything in it. 

The most glorious privilege of the old is 
to assist the young. The two ministers who 
are among the chief pillars of the Free 
Church in Edinburgh are not old yet, but 
they have had a long experience, and the 
strength and encouragement they have been 
to the young is the grand outstanding fact of 
their ministries. Their influence is, of course, 
chiefly noticeable in the divinity men, who 
make their Bible classes so remarkable. 
There is a sort of Freemasonry among the 
men who have come under the influence of 



112 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

Dr. Smith. It seems to have steadied them 
— to have given them wise rules of Hfe that 
have taken the noise out of them, and left 
them undemonstrative, quiet, determined. 
You will have little difficulty, as a rule, in 
picking out Dr. Smith's men, whether in the 
pulpit or in private. They have his mark, 
as the Rugby boys were marked by Dr. 
Arnold, Even in speaking of him, they 
seldom talk in superlatives : only a light 
comes into their eye, and you realize what a 
well-founded reverence is. I met lately in 
London an Irishman who, when the conver- 
sation turned to Scotland, asked what Edin- 
burgh was doing without Dr. Smith (who 
was in America at the time). He talked 
with such obvious knowledge of Dr. Smith's 
teaching, and with such affection for the man, 
that by and by we were surprised to hear 
that he had never heard him preach nor read 
a line of his works. He explained that he 
knew intimately two men who looked upon 
their Sundays in the Free High, and still 
more upon their private talks with the min- 
ister, as the turning point in their lives. 



REV. WALTER C. SMITH, D.D. II3 

They were such fine fellows, and they were 
so sure that they owed their development to 
Dr. Smith, that to know the followers was to 
know something of the master. This it is to 
be a touchstone to young men. 

There are those who think Dr. Smith the 
poet of higher account than Dr. Smith the 
preacher. I do not agree with them, though 
there can be no question that the author of 
" Olrig Grange " and Mr. Alexander Ander- 
son are the two men now in Edinburgh who 
have (at times) the divine afflatus. "Surface- 
man " is a true son of Burns. Of him it may 
be said, as it never can be said of Dr. Smith, 
that he sings because he must. His thoughts 
run in harmonious numbers. The author of 
"Olrig Grange" is the stronger mind, how- 
ever, and his lines are always pregnant of 
meaning. He is of the school of Mr. Lewis 
Morris, but an immeasurably higher intellect 
if not so fine an artist : indeed, though there 
arc hundreds of his pages that are not poetry, 
there are almost none that could not be re- 
written into weighty prose. Sound is never 
his sole object. Good novels in verse are a 



114 AN EDINBURGH ELEVEN. 

mistake, for it is quite certain they would be 
better in prose. The novelist has a great 
deal to say that cannot be said naturally in 
rhythm, and much of Dr. Smith's blank verse 
is good prose in frills. It is driven into an 
undeserved confinement. 

The privilege of critics is to get twelve or 
twenty minor poets in a row, and then blow 
them all over at once. I remember one who 
dispatched Dr. Smith with a verse from the 
book under treatment. Dr. Smith writes of 
a poet's verses : " There is no sacred fire in 
them, Nor much of homely sense and 
shrewd," and when the critic came to these 
lines, he stopped reading : he declared that 
Dr. Smith had passed judgment on himself. 
This is a familiar form of criticism, but in 
the present case it had at least the demerit of 
being false. There is so much sacred fire 
about Dr. Smith's best poetry, that it is what 
makes him a poet ; and as for *' homely sense 
and shrewd," he has simply more of it than 
any contemporary writer of verse. It is 
what gives heart to his satire, and keeps him 
from wounding merely for the pleasure of 



REV. WALTER C. SMITH, D.D. II5 

drawing blood. In conjunction with the 
sacred fire, the noble indignation that mean 
things should be, the insight into the tragic, 
it is what makes " Hilda " his greatest poem. 
Without it there could not be pathos, which 
is concerned with little things ; nor humour, 
nor, indeed, the flash into men and things 
that makes such a poem as " Dr. Linkletter's 
Scholar " as true as life, as sad as death. If 
only for the sake of that noble piece of 
writing, every Scottish student should have 
"North-Country Folk" in his possession. 
The poem is probably the most noteworthy 
thing that has been said of Northern Uni- 
versity life. 



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